If you were at the Gratz Center Grand Opening on January 12 or have seen the pictures of it online, you know that Fourth Presbyterian Church has started the new year on a marvelous high note. What a glorious day that Saturday was, so full of promise for the year that lies ahead!
It was also a celebration of what we, as a congregation, accomplished in the year just past to make a reality this wonderful new building and all the programs that fill it. It is that which we will celebrate again on Sunday, February 10, when we gather for the 143rd Annual Meeting of the Congregation, a time to look back on the remarkable and historic year that was 2012.
We will hear an update from the Pastor Nominating Committee, which continues their hard work reviewing and researching possible candidates for the position of Pastor. As you do each year, you, the congregation, will elect new officers of the church as well.
Added to the usual agenda of our Annual Meeting will also be a motion brought by the Session: that Fourth Church sell its property on Chicago Avenue for $3.2 million to the Chicago Housing Authority.
The sale of that property--purchased in 2002 when we anticipated receiving $25 million in air rights proceeds with which to build a community center on it--is part of the funding strategies identified in the 2010 Project Second Century proposal approved by the congregation to make possible the building of the Gratz Center.
The terms of sale for the Chicago Avenue property, as I noted this past May, were negotiated at the direction of the Boards, and include a two-year leaseback (through May 31, 2015) at no leasing cost. This will allow the Chicago Lights Urban Farm programming to continue on Chicago Avenue while alternate sites and opportunities are pursued for the mission outreach currently taking place there. The lease contract also includes provision for an additional two years upon mutual agreement.
As with our 2010 decision to let go of our vision to enter into a joint high-rise development/sale of air rights on Michigan Avenue, so too reaching this recommendation to sell the property purchased as part of that vision has resulted in having to wrestle again with disappointment. Along the way, much careful thought, faithful study, and soul-searching conversation has gone into the Board decision to bring this motion to the congregation.
You'll find more information about all of this, including a synopsis of the path to this recommendation, posted online at www.fourthchurch.org/chicago-avenue.html. Please take the time to read it. If you have any questions about the proposed sale, I'd also invite you to stop by 9:30 or 11:00 Coffee Hour on Sunday, February 3, when we will have folks on hand to answer questions and gather comments.
It will be an important meeting on February 10, and I hope you will be there for it--and for the congregational lunch that will follow in our new Borwell Dining Room--as we continue to live into this year of great promise for our beloved church!